Fri, Jun 18, 2021
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Willapa Harbor Herald
Lewis County News
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Winlock seeking $700,000 to match $3.5 million bridge grant

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Winlock's Fir St. Bridge, which spans Olequa Creek, has been closed since March due to structural concerns, and the city has recently been awarded a federal grant to replace the bridge entirely, provided they contribute matching funds of $703,600. Mayor Lonnie J. Dowell said, after completing a few procedural requirements later next month, the city will pursue funding from the State Transportation Improvement for part or all of the match. Depending on the availability of funds and the city's ability to comply with regulations, Dowell said he would like to see the new bridge open by 2016.

The city of Winlock is on the search for roughly $700,000 in matching funds after being awarded a grant earlier this month from the Federal Highways Bridge Program to replace the structurally-unsound Fir St. Bridge.

Announced on Dec. 12, the Washignton State Department of Transportation, the entity facilitating the grant, stated a little more than $3.5 million was being set aside to replace Fir St. Bridge, which has been closed since March due to structural concerns, as well as repairs to the abutments of Walnut St. Bridge, just downriver of Fir St.

Winlock Mayor Lonnie J. Dowell said, in order to move forward with the process and officially receive the funds, Winlock must first have the projects added to the state's Transportation Improvement Plan, similar to a plan adopted by the city on an annual basis, documenting a list of potential infrastructure projects to be funded if grants, loans and other monies become available.

"We have to be on that list, from my understanding, in order to accept federal funding for that grant," said Dowell, stating he has been told the state legislature will consider amendments to the plan later this month.

From there, Dowell said the city must obtain a prospectus (a document detailing the work to be done and each entity's role in the project), which Dowell said should be acquired within the next three weeks or so.

"Those are the first two steps," he said, stating the city will then be free to pursue options for coming up with the matching funds.

When Winlock applied for the grant in May, they had been aware of the potential need for matching funds if the grant was approved, and a requirement for a 20 percent match means the city must generate $703,600 before they can access the funding, with Dowell stating the city is hoping a state grant will be able to cover the bulk of the match.

"The goal is to go after TIB [Transportation Improvement Board] funding for it," said Dowell, stating, if TIB monies fall through, the city will begin to consider other options at that point.

"It's a hurry up and wait sort of thing," he added of the many procedural steps between now and replacement of the bridge, stating a current timeline is in place to have the work completed by 2017, with Dowell stating he is hoping to do what he can to meet requirements as soon as possible and perhaps see the bridge new bridge open by 2016.

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